Murdoch ‘ruperters’ are looking even more ridiculous as they go to extraordinary lengths to follow the diktats of their owner and attempt to support the unsupportable; the Morrison government. I only see the occasional idiocy from these poor buffoons when they venture out from behind their paywall into the real world. That is because I refuse to pay for the rubbish they dish up. One of the funniest I have heard in recent weeks is from the poor benighted Caroline Overington who probably would be better advised to stick to writing her fiction in novels rather than in what is laughably referred to as a Murdoch newspaper (surely that is an oxymoron?). In response to the Labor Party policy of having a target of 50% of new car sales being electric vehicles by 2030 and 50% of government fleet by 20251, Overington actually said (and I kid you not) “The idea that we’re all going to jump on board with this brand new invention, the electric car is false, entirely false… You have rural areas and regional areas where you drive long distances where electric cars are just not practical.”2
It is difficult to know where to start with such a ridiculous statement as that made by Overington. Perhaps it is simplest just to list the points of galloping stupidity.
- 58.4% of all vehicles sold in Norway in March 2019 were plug-in all-electric vehicles (i.e. not hybrids), with the three-month rolling average being 48.5%3. Norway is not exactly a small country, being about half the area of New South Wales, but being 1,752 long (NNE-SSW) and sharing a 2,544 km border with Sweden, Finland and Russia4. So, it has some of the same problems with distance as we have in Australia (at least in one direction!).
- Over 85% of Australians live in urban areas and nearly 70% live in our 8 capital cities, so most vehicle journeys are not across the wide brown land but around towns and cities5. The khaki-coloured internal combustion engine smog which lies over cities like Sydney is a result of such city driving. A 2016 study found that 87% of vehicle usage days in the US could be met by electric vehicles6. Given the similarity in size of Australia and the US, it is likely that the same would apply in Australia.
- The first production electric car was built in 1884, in London by a Thomas Parker. It used his own purpose-built high capacity rechargeable batteries. By the beginning of the 20th century (we are actually in the 21st now, Caroline) there were 30,000 of them on the roads. It was advances in the development of the internal combustion engine which lessened the advantages of the electric vehicle. Ironically, one of these advances was the development of the electric starter motor which replaced hand-cranking. In the early 1990s, California pushed for low emission vehicles and this led to a spate of electric vehicles being developed by the large car manufacturers. These cars mostly operated on Nickel-based batteries which have a fairly low energy density, and were not particularly successful7. The development of the Lithium ion battery, used in such devices as laptop computers and mobile phones, and which have a high power rating and high energy density, gave another boost (excuse pun) to electric vehicle performance, and newer versions of Lithium based batteries are under development. Now the maximum range for an electric vehicle is a little over 500 km, and the newer lithium-ion batteries can survive for thousands of charging cycles. In addition, various other battery technologies are being developed using other metals such as the much more common and cheaper Aluminium8.
- In Australia, for reasons of safety, especially with regard to driver alertness, it is recommended that drivers should have a 15 minute break from driving every two hours (i.e. about every 200 km)9. When I used to regularly drive 450 kms to visit family, I’d stop for lunch and a coffee, or a coffee and a snack after about 200-250 kms. This would invariably take about a half hour. Most electric vehicles can receive a top-up charge from a charge-point, which in half an hour can give them an extra 100-300 km in 20-30 minutes, while you have your coffee and food in the cafe, rather than standing by your vehicle with your finger on the trigger inhaling petrol fumes.
In summary, Overington is an idiot.